Miscellany

Mindful Sunday

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Sunday is my favourite day of the week. The week that was is behind us, and if I’ve played my cards right, the necessary weekend housework and socialising has taken place on Saturday. That leaves Sunday for relaxing, reflecting, and looking to the week ahead. Sunday always feels comfortable to me, a day to just be.

I’m looking forward to this week. I feel like all I’ve been doing for months is going to work, going to job interviews, and writing job applications. I’m now enforcing a break on myself and I’m so relieved to have some pressure lifted from my shoulders. This will be a week of taking it slower, revisiting exercise, reading, and catching up on Netflix.

This is also a big week at school for Moose. She’s due to be presented with an art merit award at school assembly on Friday, and I can’t wait to be there with Big R and Little R to cheer her on. And then on Friday night she’ll be going to her first school disco, and I’ll be going to my first school disco as a parent. I’m volunteering purely to spy on the littlies, it’s going to be so cute.

Today I’m going to finish off some odds and ends that I didn’t get to yesterday, and then I might take the kids out for a walk in the sunshine later. The trees are changing, autumn colour is everywhere, and leaves are sprinkled across footpaths and lawns. We’re in long-sleeves and long pants, but there’s no need for scarves and coats just yet.

And that will be it, the weekend complete. Simple, and perfect.

 

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Miscellany

Growing up – Moose, 5 years & 10 months

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Moose / 5 years & 10 months

You’re a “big” school kid now! And you have transitioned into school life like you were made to be there. Your curiosity has outshone any apprehension you might have been feeling about any of the numerous new things there have been to learn – people, places, and processes. I wouldn’t have known if you had been feeling anxious about any of it, because you certainly haven’t shown any anxiety! You have been beaming with pride and confidence since you started 5 weeks ago! Good on you, little darling. I have a feeling you’re going to do very well.

We’re already learning lots too. You’re bringing home readers, and we’re practicing those smaller, common “filler” words, like “the”, “is”, and “at”. Your writing gets better and better all the time, the other day you copied the front cover of a favourite picture book of yours, and you even copied the title and the name of the author, just like it appeared on the book, all by yourself!

On a few occasions already, when I have been with you either before or after school I have witnessed an array of children – most of whom I don’t know and some of whom are obviously in classes above you – come running up to you shouting your name, and embracing you like a long-lost friend. When I say to you, “Who was that?”, occasionally you’ll have a name for me but most of the time you say “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember”. Sounds to me like someone is already too popular for their own good! I currently have 3 birthday party invitations for you sitting on the kitchen bench that need to be answered, and that doesn’t include the one party we’ve already attended this year, and the one we have coming up next weekend.

You’re making new friends, and you seem to do it so easily and without bias. You’ll be friends with anyone as long as they’re kind to you. And making friends at this school is easy, because as a whole the kids all seem so friendly and welcoming. I’m always witnessing the bigger kids helping out the smaller kids and making sure they’re ok. There’s a real sense of community and pride at this school. I’m really glad you’re a part of it, it suits you to a T.

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In other news, you’re back at swimming after a long absence, and with a renewed interest and confidence. It’s like you never left! You’ve just picked up where we left off so long ago. In fact, I’ve been told that you’ll probably be moved up to the next class shortly. Way to go, Moose! I’m so glad to be able to give you an outside-of-school activity, and to see you thrive in it.

Speaking of renewed interest, you’ve also come back to your old love of drawing and colouring-in. Some days you’re proudly presenting anywhere up to 6 drawings to me, and these are not just simple, quick drawings. You take a lot of pride in them and you spend time in them, every corner of the page is covered and no detail is left behind. I really think this is a talent you could take with you right through to adult life if you wanted to, keep it up! You’re amazing!

You’ve definitely assumed the role of protective older sister. One day, in your last months at childcare, I arrived in the afternoon to pick up you and Little R, and found that his toddler group was playing in the big kids playground with your group. I wasn’t very pleased with this, that playground is not appropriate or safe for the children in Little R’s group, and he was and still is too young yet to be playing there. I scanned around the playground, trying to spot Little R amongst the dozens and dozens of children zooming about, but I couldn’t see him and started to feel that panicky feeling rising in my gut. Then finally I saw him, with you, in a far corner of the playground. You and some of your friends were with him, holding his hand and dancing with him. When I came up to you, you told me that you were worried he was too little to play here and would get knocked over by one of the bigger kids, so you were trying hard to keep him with you so he was safe. And then my heart burst with love and pride.

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Up until recently, we were having a problem on most afternoons, in that you and your brother would just……go crazy. There’s no other way to put it really. You would both just go bananas and be so naughty and we couldn’t calm you down, until eventually you would wear on our patience and we would end up yelling in frustration, or one of you would get hurt in your roughness with each other. And then one day I had a brain wave – it was happening at the same time every day, the “witching hour”. Clearly, calm was needed. And we were going to give that to you, in the form of TV time. A window to relax in. So Big R and I made a deal – we would stop letting you watch TV during the day when Little R was napping, and instead commit to spending that time doing something one-on-one with you (effectively working on another problem that was bothering us – not spending enough quality time with the kids). Then later in the day, when I was making dinner, you would both get to rest and watch a little TV, during the time when you would usually be wrecking the joint. And it’s worked so far, we haven’t looked back. Probably the best parenting solution I have come up with yet!

Other things you’re interested in at the moment: geography, science in general, makeup (uh-oh), Sarah & Duck, and Mister Maker.

Overall, my impression of this time with you is that I feel like we are more becoming “friends”. Hanging out with you is fun, and we don’t always have to have something planned, we can just be in the same space together, doing our own things. Having a conversation with you today is so much different to what it was even a year ago, you’ve matured so much and it’s changed the way I talk to you because I know there’s a lot you can grasp now. There’s also a lot you can do for yourself now, which is a relief, but at the same time it’s nice to know that you’ll still need us for a long while yet.

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Miscellany

Growing up – 16 months, and 5 & 3 months

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Moose / 5 & 3 months

You are proving to be the most kind and caring person. Even your teachers at preschool and other parents have commented to us about how you are always the first one to offer help if someone is hurt or struggling. There is an autistic child in your preschool class, and he has been finding it hard to settle into preschool life. But you have been a constant source of friendship and concern for him, taking him under your wing when he has needed it the most.

One of your teachers told us a story about a recent discussion at preschool. The teacher asked the class if they could come up with things that they liked about her, that didn’t have to do with her appearance. Many of the children offered up comments like “I like your clothes!” and “you have a nice smile”, but she reminded them that even though these were nice compliments, they were about her appearance and not about her as a person. You, my Moose, were the first one to give an answer that fit the criteria – “I like how you are kind to us”. This story almost made me cry when I heard it.

You can write some full words now – your name, your brother’s name, the names of some of your friends, Daddy, and Mummy. You can also write numbers. We’re starting to learn to recognise small, common words, in preparation for kindy next year. But I think you’re already quite well-prepared for the transition to big school. Something you are currently fascinated with, by the way. You ask a lot of questions about what happens at big school, and how long you’ll be there for, and when Little R will join you there.

You are learning more and more each day about relationships and interactions with other people. Preschool has taught you a lot in this area, as has becoming a big sister. You’ll often talk to us about what you should do if someone is being mean to you, or if someone is upset, or if someone is breaking the rules. Your preschool teachers have their own set of rules about how you and your classmates should behave with one another, and your Dad and I offer you our advice too. I hope you will always talk to us about what’s on your mind.

I’ve noticed you barely have any interest in drawing or colouring-in anymore. I’m hoping this is just a phase, and perhaps you’ll rediscover your love for it when your brother starts learning how to do it. Now that you’re not so interested in it, I’m finding I really miss those moments sitting quietly with you and working on our individual or joint masterpieces, side by side.

You are still very mischievous, and you have selective hearing. In fact, for a while there I was genuinely concerned about your hearing, I thought it must be the only logical reason for your apparent lack of awareness of when you’re being given an instruction. You can be rough with your brother, and we’ve noticed a jealous streak has also just started to emerge. You’ve also started with the completely silly statements when tension is in the air, like “You guys don’t love me anymore”, and “I’m going to go and live somewhere else!”. It’s still very hard to manage you some days, and I get struck down with parental guilt often. But deep down, I know that you know you are loved, and we are a tight family unit.

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Little R / 16 months

I think the age you’re in right now is probably my favourite – the year between 1 and 2. Everything is still new and wonderful to you, you’re still so happy and curious, and thankfully not yet in full tantrum-throwing mode. Milestones seem to be found everyday. The transition from crawling to walking is made complete, words start to emerge as do small facial or physical gestures as a means of communication, sometimes so slight that only a parent would understand the meaning.

Words you can currently say – Daddy, Mummy, Nanna, hello, hi, buh-bye (with a wave), toast, more (which means “milk”), ta, no!, goal!, catch!, ball, kick, dog, duck, this, uh-oh, wow, whoa.

You prefer not to hold my hand when you walk, but when you come to an uneven surface in your path you instinctively reach out for me, and when I do hold your hand, I can still feel little tremors of wobbliness in your walk, as you head towards total balance on your feet. You’re not quite there yet, you’re pretty stable but occasionally still trip over your own feet, so I’m savouring those last inklings of drunk-baby-walk.

We had to remove our coffee table from the lounge room, because you figured out how easy it was to climb on top of it, and from there, launch yourself on to the couch. There were a few bumps resulting from that, but after the split lip, it was time for the coffee table to go.

You have started to become fussier with food, turning your nose up at certain things (all vegetables, cheese, ham), or more accurately, waving it away with your hand while shaking your head and saying “no, no, no”. You’re learning how to use a fork though, with barely any instruction from us other than you watching us use our own forks. You’re a quick learner!

You give kisses and cuddles on command now, holding your arms out and puckering up your lips.

You are obsessed with ball play. All you want to do is throw and kick balls all day long. You carry a ball around with you, and will throw it at us even if our backs are turned or we’re not ready. This is probably the area you’re the most advanced in right now – you have such good ball control for a 1-year-old. Your Dad is very pleased about this, you’re showing great promise to be a star sports player!

You also love to read – more so flicking through books yourself than being read to, although you enjoy that too. You will sit quite happily and quietly for ages if you have a pile of books in front of you, carefully studying the pictures on each page. The sight makes my heart swell!

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Joining in with The Weekend Rewind with Maxabella Loves and friends

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Moments

Happy birthdays – 1 and 5

Both of my children turned another year older in May.  I absolutely love celebrating occasions like birthdays with the children, whether it’s my own or theirs.  Having children involved in these special days just brings that spark in to it, the magic that surrounded those events when you too were a child.

Here’s some of this year’s birthday memories-

Little R’s 1st

 watermarked - little r 1 birthday 1Unwrapping his presents, with his big sister’s help of course

Little R’s birthday was up first in early May, and being his 1st birthday, this was a very special one for all of us.  Because our kids’ birthdays are only 3 weeks apart, we’ve decided that each year just one of them can have a party, and we’ll alternate each year.  So 2015 was Little R’s party year!

I wanted to ensure the older kids at the party would stay entertained, and I didn’t want to have the party at our house.  So we decided on a local playground we used to visit in our old neighbourhood.  This one is bigger than your usual suburban playground, but it’s not well-known and so it’s generally quiet.  As a bonus, it has two undercover picnic tables, a barbeque, plenty of parking spaces in the surrounding streets, and a gorgeous view across a small pond and paddocks to the hills beyond.  Lucky for us, the weather was amazing on Little R’s birthday too.

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watermarked - little r 1 birthday 4It looks a bit cloudy in this photo, but it was actually a mild day with a lot of sunshine

We kept the party to just family and close friends.  There are plenty of kids in our immediate circle, which kept Moose entertained, I barely saw her for the whole party!  The kids all had a great time running around after each other, playing on the playground, and exploring the pond nearby (with adults in tow, of course).  I also brought along some of those cheap bottles of bubble mix, and some hula hoops, just as little added extras.

I wanted to keep the stress levels as low as possible (I was starting back at work two days after Little R’s birthday), so I decided not to stick to any particular party theme.  The decorations were very simple, just some colour-coordinated party-wear such as tablecloths, cups, plates etc., and bunting.  We held the party in the early afternoon, which not only worked best around children’s nap times, but took the pressure off us having to provide lunch for everybody.  We didn’t have any hot food – just fruit, muffins, lemon slice, a cheese and nibbles platter, chips, and the birthday cake of course.  I wanted to make Little R’s cake myself, and I chose a basic chocolate cake mix, in the shape of the number “1”, covered in chocolate icing and decorated with Smarties.

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watermarked - little r 1 birthday 6Moose is pretty eager to tuck in to that cake!

Little R spent the afternoon being passed around from person to person, and was all smiles when we sang him Happy Birthday.  Then he sat down to tuck into a big slice of chocolate birthday cake…..and got it all over him.  Promptly followed by a nap in his pram.

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It was a really wonderful celebration.  Just simple, and happy, surrounded by our favourite people.

Moose’s 5th

Moose’s birthday fell on a Friday this year.  I now have every Friday off with the kids as part of my part-time work arrangement, and Big R took the day off work so we could have a special family day.

I suggested we all go tenpin bowling as a fun activity we could all do together.  Moose has never been, and it had been years since Big R or I had played.  Moose was so excited, she was counting down the days from about a week out (and so was I)!

 watermarked - moose 5 birthday 1First time bowling! Check out those shoes!

After a fun morning of opening birthday presents in bed and lazing over our breakfast, Little R had a nap and then we went to the bowling centre.  I had made a booking online, thinking it might be busy with school groups, but it was really quiet.  We practically had the whole centre to ourselves!  We only played one game, but I think that was enough for Moose’s first time, and it was just the right amount of time for her concentration levels too.  Moose played using a mix of free-hand bowling (with our help), and “the ramp”, that’s designed to help kids so they don’t injure themselves.  She was fascinated with how the bowling ball magically pops up again out of the machine that places it back next to your seats, ready for the next turn (that machine has a name I’m sure, you know the one I’m talking about!).  Big R ended up winning, and then Moose beat me by 1 point.  Did I mention that I’m hopeless at bowling? Then again, she did have the advantage of the bumpers and the ramp….

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After our game finished, we of course had the obligatory bowling-alley lunch of hot dogs, nuggets and chips.  The quality was better than I was expecting, and it was surprisingly good value for money too.  We spent some time in the arcade part of the centre, where we won enough game machine tickets to win Moose the prize of some plastic bangles and a Dora the Explorer ring.  So far, a great day!

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Then it was time for my usual Friday ritual with the kids – heading to the fresh food markets to buy our fruit & veg and meat, browse in the bookstore, have a play on the playground, and maybe buy a scrumptious bakery snack from the patisserie.  We did all of those things, and this time we had Big R in tow which made it even more of an enjoyable family experience.

Later at home, Moose had some time to play with her new birthday gifts, before her Nanna came over to have dinner and cake with us.  Moose got to choose what we had for dinner, and she kept telling me she wanted “chicken, meat, chips, and veggies”.  I translated this as a barbeque chicken, chips and gravy, and a salad.  Everyone was happy with that!  I didn’t quite have the time or energy to bake another birthday cake so soon after Little R’s birthday, so I suggested to Moose that she might like to try an ice-cream cake, which she excitedly agreed to.  Ice-cream cake is always a big hit for everyone concerned, and it is always going to look impressive too!

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I think Moose was really happy with how we spent her birthday, I’m so glad we all got to be together even though it was a weekday.

And that’s the kid’s birthdays over for another year – phew!

Happy birthdays Little R and Moose!

Joining in with The Weekend Rewind at Maxabella Loves

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Miscellany

Growing up – 10 months, and 4 & 10 months

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Moose / 4 & 10 months

You ask lots of questions.  Lately, you’re asking about certain words and what they mean.  You’ll stop us in the middle of a conversation, or in the middle of reading you a book, and ask about a word we’ve just said (the latest ones were “nervous” and “unfair”).  You also ask about people, whether they’re on the TV screen, in books or magazines, or in real life.  You want to know who they are,  and why they are doing whatever it is they’re doing.  You’re also asking the big questions – How do babies come out of their mummy’s belly? When I get older, will I die?

You can write almost any letter on command, and also identify words that begin with that letter.  You’re still struggling with a few of them, mainly K, Q, X, and Y.

Your drawings have become more elaborate and imaginative.  Instead of flowers, grass, sun and sky, which was your standard creation for a long time, now you’ve added people with long hair and uppercase “L”‘s for the noses, clouds, rain and lightning, or beautiful rainbow butterflies with smiling faces.  You’re also drawing things that are relevant to you at the time, like characters you’ve seen on TV, or Santa on his sleigh, or portraits of family and friends.

You have many imaginary discussions with your friends when your alone.

You took so well to night-time toilet training, which we started around September or so last year (at 4 years & 4 months).  After a month or two of regular accidents, you just got it.  Suddenly, you were either sleeping straight through with no accidents, or if you woke up, it was in time to use the toilet. And I am so grateful!

It’s been a long, hard road, but I think you’re finally getting the hang of this business of doing as you’re asked, and straight away.  Implementing a reward chart seems to have helped, as has praising you when you do the right thing (which has led to you seeking out our approval when you think you’ve done something right – “Mummy, did I do what you asked straight away?”), trying to ensure you don’t get too hungry or too hyper, and using the spare room as a “calm down” space when needed.  Starting preschool, and having to understand a different set of rules there, has also been a great lesson for you.

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You pull THE FUNNIEST faces I’ve ever seen.  You’re a comedian, you love to be silly and to make people laugh.

You don’t seem to ask to watch TV as much as you used to, and as a result you’re probably only watching it on maybe two occasions per week and only for short periods of time. These days, you’re much more content to just hang out with your little brother on the floor in the family room and play with him and his toys, or bring out your own toys for a bit of imaginary role-playing of your own.

You love to tell us all about the things you’re doing at preschool – the songs you’re singing, the toys you have there, the rules that the teachers expect you to follow, and what you’re learning about how to treat your friends.  You make up scenarios to talk about with us – “Mummy, if you’re playing with your friend in the sandpit, it’s not nice to throw sand at your friend because that might make them cry or you might get sand in their eye!”

More and more each day, I can feel you are growing up.  You have left the toddler stage behind you now, and you are in preschooler mode, soon to be a real, proper “kid”.  Occasionally this makes me feel a little sad, but mostly I’m just excited.

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Little R / 10 months

3 months ago, I made this note about you – “can almost sit on his own, will do it for a few seconds at a time before lurching off to one side and needing to be caught before he eats the ground”.  Now, you are sitting straight up and with ease, you have gone from a kind of commando-crawl to full hands-and-knees speed crawling, and you’re pulling yourself up in to standing against the furniture.  Your latest trick – dancing whenever you hear music.  How much can change in so little time!

You can grab for things you want clearly and quickly.  You have an activity table with lots of buttons to push and lights and music, and in the middle of it is a hole where you can put plastic balls in.  You can very smoothly pick up one of the balls from the ground, raise it up above the play table, and insert it in to the hole with precision.

You still love to roll over and around in bed, making it impossible for us to try you with bedsheets yet.  When we enter your room after you’ve woken from a nap, you are usually found on your tummy in your sleeping bag, or sitting or standing, with your smiley little face greeting us between the bars of your cot.

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You have a long attention span, especially for things that are new, like new places and objects.  You’ve always made it very easy to take you places, you don’t usually fuss about.  People always remark that they never hear a peep out of you (although they haven’t been around at the times when you’ve taken hours to get down to sleep)!

Speaking of sleep, you’ve become harder and harder to get down to sleep as you’ve gotten older.  You’ve learnt that if we hold you in “the sleepy position” as we call it (horizontally in our arms), or if we enter your room and close the blinds, this means we’re planning on putting you in bed, and you will let us know you’re not happy about it.  I think I may have found a sleep routine that seems to work for you though – for the last few days we’ve been working up to putting you down to sleep, instead taking the time to cuddle, calm you down, and read you a book, to prepare you for bed rather than just put you in there.  You always have a whinge when we leave your room and close the door, but most of the time it peters out after about a minute or so and you surrender to sleep!

You try to give me kisses on my cheeks and mouth, which sometimes end up being headbutts, and are always slobbery. Lucky they are so cute.

You leave a trail of drool wherever you go – on the floor, your hands, toys, my shoulder.  You’ve been drooling almost since the day you were born.  I get the constant assurance that “he must have teeth coming”, but months on, still no teeth are to be seen.  Your sister was the same.  I don’t believe that drool means teeth.

The minute your sister enters the room, you only have eyes for her and you smile and giggle adoringly at her, even if she’s not doing anything in particular.

You are ticklish – mainly under the neck, toes and underarms.

You have always been coy around people outside of your immediate family circle.  You’ll be in my arms, they’ll come up to you and talk and smooch on you, and you’ll give them a heart-melting grin, lower your eyelashes, and then turn your face away and bury it in my shoulder.

You can say “Dad” and “Mum” and “That”, but most of all you love babbling gibberish all day long, and I love listening to it.

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Our first preschooler

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Moose started preschool on Monday of last week.  She has been eagerly awaiting this for quite some time now, after watching various childcare friends be herded back and forth to the preschool next door all last year.  She was ready.  She wasn’t nervous or scared.  I was prepared – everything was labelled, food was made and ready to go, spare clothes lovingly wrapped up in a marked bag inside her new super-dooper-sized backpack.

On Day 1, we all got up early to get ready, Moose chose her outfit, and I tried to do her hair extra neat (she has such thick hair, it’s hard!).  Everyone was cheery, this was a happy day!  When we were all ready to go, we went outside and took a bunch of the obligatory photos with our proud newbie preschooler.

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We got to preschool, more photos in front of the school and on the playground.  Other children arrived with their families, and we followed the written instructions on the door – “Welcome! Please place your morning tea in the purple tub, and your water bottle in the red tray.  Your bag can go on a hook, and please wash your hands before you enter”.

Moose greeted friends she knew from childcare, and was introduced to other new kids.  They all played on the playground, and headed inside to explore the classroom and the various play stations that had been set up – puzzles, books, tactile experiences.  After lots of playing, and photos, it was time for the teachers to gather the children together to start their day in the centre of the room, and we took that as our cue to leave.  Moose didn’t cry.  She wasn’t shy or nervous.  She was completely at ease, and ready for whatever adventures were set to come her way.  After a quick hug goodbye, we left her sitting with the other kids, listening to her teacher’s instructions.  And that was it.  She had become a preschooler!

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Every day since she started, she has asked or spoken about preschool.

Am I going to preschool today?

When am I going back to preschool?

Do you know, at preschool….

I looooove preschool

She’s shared a photo slideshow with her class, something each child was asked to do so they can get to know each other, she’s brought artwork home, she’s sung songs that she’s learnt at preschool, she’s told us about the “bell” rule (when the bell rings, they have to stop what they’re doing and look at the teacher), she’s borrowed a book on their first “library day” (and I’m the happy volunteer parent library helper!).

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I’m so proud of my little girl, and so joyful to see her loving this experience so far.  I just know it’s going to be a great year, she’s going to gain so much from being there, and we’re all going to enjoy seeing her grow during this part of her life’s journey.

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Free playing

“What do you want to do today?” I asked.

She immediately answered “I want to make a picture with lots and lots of butterflies!  We can stick them on, like a collage!”.

So we rummaged through our craft box, and we did indeed have a whole bunch of coloured cardboard butterflies ready to be glued.

But first, she wanted to draw her own butterfly.

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Not bad for a 4-year old, huh?

Then, we coloured the butterfly together.

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And she cut it out all by herself, silently, with the utmost care (she’s actually better at cutting out stuff than I am).

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Next, we needed a background for our butterfly collage.  I  handed her a very large piece of cardboard, and she very quickly drew a scene – a stream surrounded by grass, flowers, a tree (with a nest tucked in to a bough of branches) and a sunny sky.

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And then, we stuck butterflies on it.  Her own drawn butterfly was placed first, followed by the other craft ones and some leaves picked from our garden, to create this gorgeous, colourful scene.

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I find it hard to conjure up both the energy and imagination needed to continously think up new creative activities for Moose and I to engage in together.  A lot of the time, my brain can’t do much better than “Let’s draw/colour in/paint”, which is fine sometimes, but she quickly gets bored with it.  On this day, I simply let her suggest an idea instead, opening myself up to whatever she might come up with and committing myself to doing the activity together.  This one took us around an hour to complete.  And it was fun!  There was no whinging, no arguing, no tears.  I just gave her imagination free rein, and helped her to make it happen.  It was so satisfying to spend a good amount of happy, creative time with her, on a task of her choosing.  We both enjoyed the whole process of creating together, one step at a time, and I didn’t have to bear the pressure of having to come up with an idea myself!  Win win!

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